The Dark, Twisted Comedy of Henry Zebrowski
Henry Zebrowski is like the John Carpenter of comedy: a Master of Horror. From his demonic role as Gary on Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell, to his dark and twisted sketch group Murderfist, and his paranormal/true crime/unexplained phenomena podcast The Last Podcast on the Left Zebrowski has carved out a wonderfully macabre comedic niche for himself. “That vibe belongs in American comedy. The longer we do this the longer that vibe will exist in comedy,” he explains. I talked to Zebrowski about the new season of Your Pretty Face, the dictator side of his ego, and his love of all things horror.
The last time we spoke was about a year ago right before the Season 2 premiere of Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.
Yeah, a lot has changed. We’ve been working on the show now for four years. You’d think everyone would be aware of how much has changed within the world of the television show, but we are on a whole new plane of shit. It’s like a different television show. Season 3 is a different child than Season 2. It’s pretty great.
What are some things that make Season 3 different than the first two seasons?
I think we are more mature. I think we figured out our relationships a lot more. I’m pregnant. There are a lot of emotions being played with.
Maturity seems like the exact opposite thing that you would want to have for the show. You told me before about how crazy things can be on set and the general mania that goes into making the show. From a production standpoint has everybody settled down a little bit and gotten more focused on making the show?
No, no. I meant that the voice of the show has matured. We figured out a lot more. We’re discovering more about our characters and things are kind of busting open. In Season 3 we’re learning to control the world more. It’s finally getting its legs. But the show is fucking apeshit. Eventually you become so crazy that it all starts to feel suburban.
You’ve said that doing the show is the most fun thing you’ve ever done. Is that still true?
I get to have so much control and so much fun on the shoot. I would say that The Characters for Netflix was a thing that we really got to let loose on, but that was mostly fun because my comedy partners and I finally got to make something and they were forced to take what we made. We probably had way more power than we should have. Like, “Of course the squid will suck his dick.” And then we have 10 guys working it out, taking turns to make sure that the squid was covered in enough lube so that it looks shiny and sweaty enough. That fulfilled me. The dictator inside of every comedian…it thrilled that little Mussolini inside of me that wants to say something ludicrous and have 10 people run to go get it done. But Pretty Face is something that…the goal for Gary, as far as I’m concerned, is to be a live-action Stimpy from The Ren & Stimpy Show. Gary in Season 3 is a combination of Bugs Bunny and Stimpy. I’m hoping that it keeps going towards that. Once we get to the 15th Season or so, that’s when we’ll have Henry Winkler on the show with special episodes about 9/11, Anne Frank, and stuff like that.
I saw a picture from Little Five Points Festival in Atlanta where there were a ton of Garys — dozens of people in full Gary costume.
It was the ultimate thrill as an egotistical person to look and see so many people wearing your face as masks. It made me harder than I normally am. I saw a picture of it and I was afraid to make love to my girlfriend because I was afraid I was going to put a baby inside of her. They did it to make fun of me, but I flipped it on them. I took the power. I wish I could have been there, but Murderfist was doing its last show at The PIT. We’re going on hiatus, so that was our “10 Years in New York” show.
The Murderfist sketches are so good.
That vibe belongs in American comedy. I’m lucky that I get paid to do that with my boys. We’re going to be doing bigger better projects outside of Murderfist that literally have the same vibe. Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell is the closest thing I have to Murderfist in a television show. The longer we do this the longer that vibe will exist in comedy. You have to have a bunch of fat, gross people doing comedy. It can’t just be pretty people.
As of today your podcast The Last Podcast on the Left is sitting at number 7 on the iTunes comedy charts. Halloween season seems like the perfect time of year for people to get into your podcast.
Our community — the people that listen to the podcast — are like a family. Everyone is really fucking cool. We have people from all walks of life: people with face tattoos, moms, little kids. I love when a fifteen-year-old comes to a live show with their parents like, “These are the men I listen to.” Each year at Halloween we have people select scary stories that they’ve experienced. We do two rounds: one where people call in and they tell us a story and another where people write in stories. We go through all the submissions and pick our favorite ones. The first one this year is the best one we’ve ever done. There’s this guy who says he worked security at Area 51 and talks about a bunch of shit he saw. We have a woman whose grandfather was almost a victim of Charles Cullen, one of those angels of mercy killers, a nurse who probably killed a couple hundred people. And we had a very interesting caller, a man who served in Iraq, talking about ISIS torture chambers. He found a shanty in this deserted town and he went in and found all these bare mattress springs with car batteries attached to them, the whole thing drenched in blood. Crazy stories.
What else do you have coming up that we can keep an eye out for?
I’m going to be doing my first horror movie called Cut Shoot Kill. I get to play the villain in that, which is really exciting. It’s in post now and we plan on hitting the whole circuit of horror movie festivals.
Photo by Mindy Tucker.